Social, environmental, and health issues are deeply rooted, complex, and multi-faceted and no one organization, discipline, sector, or nation can address or solve them on their own. Public health and its issues tend to be thought of the domain of the public sector, with input from academia and the third sector with the private sector’s involvement limited to health-specific industries or philanthropy. However, the private sector is becoming increasingly involved in social, environmental and health issues, particularly via corporate social responsibility (CSR). Due to the immense resources of the private sector as well as its undeniable social, political, and economic power, CSR has the potential to help make a positive impact on which ever social issue, and thus public health issue, it focuses on. A literature review of CSR evolution, theories, concepts and applications was done in order to understand how CSR is conceptualized and practiced in different sectors and in the academic world versus the real world. Yet, despite the fact that CSR has so much potential for impact and has become a normative term and expected practice, it remains conceptually ambiguous between disciplines, sectors, nations, theory, and practice. The literature review analysis resulted inin three areas for further research: 1)conceptual clarity, 2) improved CSR standardization and/or measurement, and 3) just how involved in social, environmental and health issues should the private sector (via CSR) be and what are the implications and impact of this involvement?
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